Cherry Barb: Fish Species Profile

Cherry barb in an aquarium

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Named for the males' vibrant red color during spawning season, the Cherry Barb makes a great schooling addition to many freshwater community tanks. These slender fish are common in this pet hobby and are easy to manage for most beginner aquarists. These smaller fish tend to be shy around larger, aggressive fish, so keep them in a group and choose their tank mates carefully.

Species Overview

Common Name: Cherry Barb

Scientific Name: Puntius titteya

Adult Size: 2 inches

Life Expectancy: 4 to 6 years


Family  Cyprinidae
Origin  Sri Lanka
Social  Peaceful
Tank Level  Top, mid-dweller
Minimum Tank Size  25 gallons
Diet  Omnivore
Breeding  Egglayer
Care  Easy
pH  6.0 to 7.0
Hardness  4 to 10 dkH
Temperature  74 to 79 F (23 to 27 C)

Origin and Distribution

The Cherry Barb is native to Sri Lanka. They are found in the Kelani to Nilwala basins. Due to their popularity in the aquarium trade, more vibrantly colored individuals are heavily overfished.

Colors and Markings

Their characteristic red coloration is more common in male Cherry Barbs during spawning season. Most Cherry Barbs will be primarily tan to dark brown with highlights of red or orange. All Cherry Barbs have a darker line of scales along their midline, right along their lateral line.


Cherry Barbs like to be in small schools, so be sure to plan ahead so there is enough room for 5-6 fish. Suitable tankmates include other barb species, such as the Rosy Barb or Black Ruby Barb. Common tetra species, such as the Neon Tetra or Buenos Aires Tetra also add a splash of color to your tank. There are many peaceful community fishes that are well suited to a tank with the Cherry Barb. Make sure their water parameters match before you bring them home!

Rosy barb in an aquarium
Rosy Barb

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Two Neon Tetras
Neon Tetra

Mirko_Rosenau/Getty Images

Cherry Barb Habitat and Care

Being a shyer fish, the Cherry Barb likes to have lots of places to hide in their home aquarium. They should be added to your aquarium first, so they can get settled and not have to compete for hiding places.

Since they like to stick in a group, you may need to make lots of hiding places to accommodate more than one fish at a time. Planted tanks or aquascapes make a great home for Cherry Barbs with good water quality and lots of places to hide.

Cherry Barbs are relatively easy to care for as long as you keep up with your regular maintenance. In planted tanks, be sure to remove dead plant material regularly and pay attention to any pH changes between day and night.

Cherry Barb Diet and Feeding

As an omnivore, the Cherry Barb will accept a wide variety of foods. A standard tropical pellet will suffice for most of their nutritional needs. You can supplement with fresh veggies and frozen treats on occasion. Most Cherry Barbs raised in captivity are very well accustomed to a pelleted diet and are not too picky about the type.

Gender Differences

During spawning, Cherry Barb males will turn a vibrant red color. Females tend to be lighter with a darker lateral line bar. Females often get very round as their eggs mature, whereas males tend to stay slender. Your males and females may look very similar if they are not interested in spawning.

Male Cherry Barb
Male Cherry Barb

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Female Cherry Barb
Female Cherry Barb


Breeding the Cherry Barb

Thankfully, Cherry Barbs readily breed in captivity and even beginners have good luck getting their fish to spawn. In order to get your Cherry Barbs interested in spawning, you will need to increase your tank's water temperature. Be sure to provide plenty of food to support gender differentiation and development of reproductive products. You will see your male fish take on a brighter red color during this time. If you have lots of boys and only a few girls, things may get very competitive. Try to have more females than males in your school to keep competition limited.

Cherry Barbs will lay their eggs on various plant materials in the tank. Then the males will follow behind the females and externally fertilize the eggs. Within a few days, the fry will hatch and start swimming around. Beware that other fish and invertebrates will try to eat your new baby fish. If possible, move the plants containing eggs to a separate spawning tank prior to hatching. This will also allow you to feed your new baby fish a better diet for proper development.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

If you like the Cherry Barb, here are some additional species to take a look at:

Check out additional fish breed profiles for more information on other freshwater fish.